It begins as a scratchy tickle in the back of your throat. You try to brush it off as a side effect of a lengthy conversation, but something tells you otherwise.
As the hours and days progress, the sneezing and soreness in your throat increases to the point that you are sure you have a full-blown cold. But wait, there’s more. If it is just a cold, then why are you experiencing chills and aches over your entire body? You know the answer as you resign yourself to a miserable day or two in your bed; the flu is a tough fate to face. Thankfully there are a few preventative measures to keep the flu from striking you.
According to Floridahealth.gov influenza, or ‘flu’, is a viral respiratory illness, mainly spread by droplets made when people cough, sneeze, or talk. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection are hospitalization or death. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) tracks influenza and influenza-like activity throughout the country. As of last week, in Florida, flu activity had decreased but it was too soon to know if the flu season has peaked. There have been four pediatric-related flu deaths this flu season, all in unvaccinated children. There has been a notable uptick in Influenza A and the current vaccines contain strains from Influenza A and B. The CDC recommends antiviral medications be administered within 48 hours of illness onset. Otherwise, you just have to tough it out.
Well, there you go. The “flu” is nothing to sneeze at. I can see where people would try to curb sneezing and coughing in another person’s face, but talking? Kind of hard to get through a day without that activity which leads us to our first tip for fighting the flu.
Stay home – If you are sneezy, coughy, achy, feverish…keep that stuff to yourself! I personally do not have an issue with this one; if I’m sick, I am home. I do understand that people need to get to work and school and this can become a touchy subject. But there are several problems with taking your selfish, broken self to work when you are sick. First, nobody will mistake this for an impressive work ethic and will instead avoid any interaction with you, lest you cough, sneeze or breathe on them. And, if you are sending your kids to school with a full-blown illness, the teachers know. Trust me on this one. They will diligently take the kid’s temperature and when the Tylenol wears off, will call you A.S.A.P. to pick up your feverish wee-one.
Wash Hands.- The CDC recommends thorough handwashing “with soap and water.” They don’t mention hand sanitizer in their instructions so maybe forego our current hygiene trend and treat your phalange to some old-fashioned Dove or Ivory. Also, surfaces that are touched frequently should be disinfected and wiped down. Flu germs can live for 48 hours on hard surfaces, while only managing to live on soft surfaces for a few minutes. But I would wash the bedding anyhow.
Vaccinate – While I do not participate in flu vaccinations, many others do. In fact, the CDC recommends that all people, including children six months and older, receive the flu vaccination yearly by the end of October. If the flu is still circulating, the recommendation is to get the vaccine into January. According to the CDC, flu vaccinations prevented as many as 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations during the 2016-17 season.
We hope you all are riding the flu-tide symptom free. But if it strikes, catch up on Netflix and keep your germs to yourself.
Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos and CDC Facebook page.